For this battle, we are taking a trip into the underworld of the Realm of Death, where the Stormcast Eternals have been sent to reclaim the bodies of Sigmar’s fallen War-Priests.
The Story So Far
Early in the Realmgate Wars, the forces of Sigmar fought hard to wrest a Realmgate known as the Arch of Bones from the armies of Khorne. This was a an important strategic Realmgate that led to the Realm of Death and while Sigmar’s armies were successful, many of his War-Priests died in the attack. However, Nagash is a jealous god who refused to allow their bodies to return to Azyr. Unwilling to allow those who fought with such devotion and heroism to rest in the hands of Nagash, Sigmar dispatched a force of Stormcasts to bring them back to the Celestial Realm.
Leading this force was Lord-Relictor Dedrac, the Stormcasts entering the Arch of Bones to traverse the warrens of the Penumbral Vault to find the resting place of the War-Priests, a dais within the Dragonfate Chamber.
However, the cast off necromantic forces of Nagash soon became aware of the intruders and they raced to stop them, eager to demonstrate their devotion to the Lord of Death. Spirit Hosts were soon joined by Crypt Ghouls, the harbingers of Ghoul King Marrowthirst. The bone-bound gates of the chamber were sealed, cutting off the retreat of the Stormcasts, leaving them no choice but to battle the dead and, maybe, raise the spirits of the War-Priests to fight once more.
This is another small skirmish, as Sigmar can dedicate only so many Stormcasts to the task, and the forces of Nagash have been caught off-guard. This will mean both armies need to exercise caution as the loss of a critical unit could mean their whole plan falls apart rapidly.
Abhorrent Ghoul King on Terrorgheist
Crypt Ghouls x 20
Crypt Horrors x 3
Spirit Hosts x 6
This Flesh-Eater Court can match the Stormcasts for numbers, thanks to the pack of Crypt Ghouls, and while the smaller guys will not match a Liberator , they are supported by the larger Crypt Horrors and Spirit Hosts. However, the real engine of this force is the Ghoul King himself, atop his Terrorgheist. The Stormcasts are going to be hard pushed trying to contain him…
Liberators (four units of 5)
The Stormcasts have a tiny, tiny force in this battle – just four units of Liberators led by a Lord-Relictor. However, Liberators can prove to be tough enough and the Lord-Relictor is always good for throwing some lightning around. They are also able to call upon the spirits of the dead who may manifest themselves as three Warrior Priests.
In this Battleplan, the Stormcasts must march to a Dragonfate Dais in the centre of the chamber, start resurrecting Warrior Priests, and then conduct the Word of Power ritual that will call upon the light of Sigmar, burning away the forces of Death and allowing escape. Only Heroes can use the Dragonfate Dais and while the Stormcasts start with only the Lord-Relictor, resurrected Warrior Priests are also Heroes, and the Lord-Relictor can temporarily promote other Stormcasts to become Heroes, allowing them to use the Dais.
The Flesh-Eater Court has a simpler goal – kill all enemy Heroes, and they gain a major victory.
The Flesh-Eater Court was
eager for blood riding valiantly alongside their noble king into the heretical hordes, and deployed around the Dragonfate Dais. Confident in the strength of their sigmarite shields, the Stormcast Liberators deployed line abreast, with a single retinue and the Lord-Relictor a little further back to plug any holes and take advantage of any breakthroughs.
Battle Round One
terrible shriek inspiring speech to his foot troops, the Ghoul King stood on the back of his Terrorgheist noble steed and waved his followers forward. Finding them too slow, he then directed his Terrorgheist into the air and swooped down to land right in front of the Liberator line.
The Terrorgheist unleashed a terrible scream that caused two Liberators to sink down and clutch their heads as their brains overloaded with the piercing sound, and another fled the battlefield.
Undaunted by this sudden attack, the Stormcasts marched forward, the Lord-Relictor giving one of the Liberators a battlefield promotion and full authority to activate the Dragonfate Dais.
With a cry of ‘Only the Faithful!’ the newly promoted Liberator charged forward into the Crypt Ghouls, but his eagerness caught his original retinue off guard and they failed to follow him into battle.
Meanwhile, the Liberators who had suffered from the scream of the Terrorgheist charged the terrible beast.
They fought hard and managed to score several telling blows on the Terrorgheist, but the Ghoul King simply turned the creature around and allowed it to tear its attackers apart. The promoted Liberator was, in turn, swamped by Crypt Ghouls and quickly disappeared under their foul bodies.
Battle Round Two
The Lord-Relictor promoted another Liberator who, seeing the fate of his predecessor, ran far around the flank of the Flesh-Eater Court, skirting the vengeful Spirit Hosts.
The bulk of the Liberators charged the Crypt Ghouls as the Lord-Relictor led another retinue to bring down the Ghoul King.
Hungry for blood Displaying the highest levels of chivalry and honour, the Crypt Ghouls tore savagely into the Liberators, sending seven of them back to Azyrheim in sparks of blue lightning that shone brightly in the gloom.
The rest of the Stormcasts were faring much better though, with the Terrorgheist sustaining several deep cuts and abrasions from the Liberators’ swords and Lord-Relictor’s hammer.
Shrieking his fury Offering the villain a chance at single combat, the Ghoul King rained blows upon the Lord-Relictor as his Terrorgheist snapped and clawed at the Stormcast. Though he was pummeled badly, the Lord-Relictor’s armour held true and he suffered no real injury.
The Ghoul King spat threats at the Crypt Ghouls, promising them
dire consequences if they ran the hand of a fair maiden should they credit themselves with valour on the battlefield, as the Crypt Horrors circled round behind him to launch a vicious attack upon the Liberators that threatened the tyrant great and noble sire.
Once more the Terrorgheist shrieked, but the Liberators now knew what to expect and they weathered the attack with grim fortitude.
The Lord-Relictor rained down a series of heavy blows upon the Terrorgheist, forcing it back, but he left his guard wide open in the doing. The beats sprang forward with supernatural speed, and crunched down hard on his armour, crushing him instantly.
Just across from this battle, the Crypt Ghouls savaged the Liberators they faced, the Liberator-Prime fending off their attacks only to be stabbed in the back with a shimmering blade from the Spirit Hosts.
Battle Round Three
The last Liberators moaned in dismay as they saw the Terrorgheist’s wounds begin to knit and heal themselves, but were cut short as the creature let loose with the most devastating shriek yet, blasting them back to Sigmar.
The newly promoted Liberator tried to make one last ditch effort to reach the Dragonfate Dais, but was easily cut off by the faster Crypt Ghouls and Spirit Hosts. Within seconds, he too was returning the the Celestial Realm.
Well, the Stormcasts certainly had their rear ends handed to them there!
So, what went wrong?
On paper, there is no great disparity between these two forces, with the Flesh-Eater Court having perhaps a tiny advantage in the shape of the Terrorgheist.
The plan (such as it was) started to break down right on the first turn when the Stormcasts started advancing. What should have happened is that the Terrorgheist and Crypt Ghouls were charged, the former being taken down a wound bracket or two and the Ghouls all but being wiped out. However, the Stormcasts were plagued by failed charges, leaving them a stark choice of saving the Lord-Relictor (who should have been munched by the Terrorgheist a turn earlier than he was) or a single newly promoted Liberator. Not much of a choice there, and the Ghouls were able to sustain their high number of attacks throughout the battle.
A unit of Retributors (or, better, Decimators) would have made all the difference, but that is not what the narrative called for. It is perhaps better to say that the Stormcasts would have been better off with a plan that actually worked – dealing with the Crypt Ghouls, then taking on the bigger creatures. This was a classic case of trying to do too much, too quickly.
After all, it is not as if there is a time limit on this battle…
The Story Continues…
The Godbeasts campaign looms large now, but we have just enough time to squeeze in another battle before we embark on that epic. Next time, we will see how the Fyreslayers fare when they descend into the underworld within the Realm of Death to oust a Vampire Queen from her castle…